“Thoma’s Group” are the younger Voi orphans, who are still enclosed at night in a Stockade, along with weakling Mweiga. “Natumi’s Group” are the older orphans, who are now no longer confined at night. And Emily’s group (who have been conspicuous by their absence this month) is comprised of Emily, Aitong, Tsavo, Sweet Sally, and now Natumi and Ndara, Ilingwezi having returned back to Natumi’s group). This month Emily’s group have obviously gone further afield with the wild herds, exploring new pastures, which is a positive development although she and her satellites have been missed back at home.
It is very interesting that the two groups are, essentially, one family, and meet up on a daily basis, Natumi’s group usually turning up at the Stockades first thing in the morning to escort the younger set out. If Natumi’s group is not there when the Stockade doors are opened, then Thoma’s group head out hurriedly in search of them, and make contact somewhere out in the bush. At each and every meeting, there is an incredible elephant celebration of joy and happiness, with trumpeting, urinating, and the touching and caressing of trunks etc., something that is wonderful to behold. On occasions, not all of Natumi’s group turn up for the babies, but instead just one member from it, to escort the youngsters to the main group. On the 5th, it was Edie who came alone, and so enjoyed having all the youngsters to herself that she spent time dallying on the way to meet the others! The next day it was the turn of two of the Bigger boys in Natumi’s group to take the babies out, namely Laikipia (the biggest boy) and his side-kick, Nyiro. During the month, there have only been about five days when Natumi’s group, or a member from it, have not been at the Stockades at dawn to escort Thoma’s group out, and when the youngsters have had to find Natumi’s group out in the bush, sometimes hurrying past friendly wild herds in order to do so.
A very frequent visitor to both the Stockades, and to the orphans out in the bush is a “wild teenaged boy”, who could be one of the earlier orphans, whom the current Keepers do not recognize. We think that he could actually be either Ajok or Lominyek, since he is so comfortable amongst both the orphans and their Keepers, and often lies down to allow the smaller orphans to climb on him, which is always a huge treat for them.
On the l0th the “wild teenage boy” arrived at the waterhole in amongst a large wild herd, and immediately approached the orphans to introduce them, to his friends. Edie paid particular attention to two tiny wild calves and so enjoyed doing so that the next day when the same wild herd was already at the Orphans’ waterhole at noon, she tried to repeat the performance, without success, even going some distance with the wild herd hoping to have a chance to be with them, and returning a while later.
On the 18th, Natumi’s group was occupied with a wild herd on the Eastern slopes of Mazinga Hill, but Ilingwezi and Nyiro detected the approach of Thoma’s group in the distance, and ran to intercept them and bring them back to the others. All the orphans spent most of the day with this wild herd, and when the wild elephants separated, Laikipia was tempted to go along too, but returned after a short while.
The Voi Unit has enjoyed quality time with wild herds this month., on the l0th, 11th, 14th, 15th, and l8th, when Catherine’s wild herd came to drink at the Stockades with her family, and Laikipia sourced his friendly wild mate for a test of strength. The orphans made contact with wild herds again on the 20th and 23rd.
Like Aitong, Edie obviously has immense sex appeal in elephant terms, because not only is Uaso besotted with her, but also the “wild boy”. She is usually singled out by any visiting bulls for special attention, so she must be very “pretty”, endowed with that special magic, sex appeal.
Mweiga’s condition has improved slightly since being put back on Milk Replacer, with her additional supplementary feeding increased, and it is surprising that she has not benefited from the green season, but has remained very weak, and until her condition improved, could not keep pace with either Thoma’s group, as they hurried out to join the older elephants, or Natumi’s group. However, faithful Sosian escorted her out on the 13th, and whenever she lags behind, there is always a Keeper remaining with her, and whenever the others meet up with her again, there is the usual joyous reunion. Mukwaju is still the mountaineer of Natumi’s group, ever eager to lead his friends up to the top of Mazinga Hill and amongst the male set of Natumi’s group, Laikipia and Burra are the main players, who vie with one another to lead the group back to the Stockades in the evenings.
The country around the Stockades remains tinged with green from the exceptional rains at the beginning of the year, but sadly there has been no sign of the usual April/May rains to date, which is a worry, for the orphans face a long dry season, which will be unusually harsh, if these rains fail entirely.
The Voi Unit’s orphaned Zebra, Serena, and the little kudu, Rukinga, are being taken further afield nowadays, sometimes escorted quite a long distance from the Stockades by their Keeper in order to get them used to the wider world. Both flourish. Two orphaned buffaloes have been handed into the care of Rukinga Ranch, so that they can join the cattle herd there until grown, and benefit from fresh milk on a daily basis rather than powdered.